Arizona Facing Shortage Of Public-School Superintendents

By Al Macias, Keerthi Vedantam
Published: Monday, July 27, 2015 - 9:05am
Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 - 12:35pm

In the upcoming school year, 47 of the state’s 225 public school districts will have new superintendents. For many of them it will be their first time on the job.

This year’s superintendent turnover rate is the highest in five years.

Steve Highlen, a search consultant, connected 15 superintendent candidates with school districts this year. He said the biggest problem is finding superintendents that fit the school districts’ varying needs.

“They need someone real strong in curriculum, for instance, or someone really strong in budget. Each district is different in terms of what they’re looking for," Highlen said.

RELATED: How Bad Is Arizona's Teacher Shortage?

Instead of hiring from other districts, some school districts are promoting from within to ensure the new superintendents preserve the goals and mission of the schools.

Charles Tack from the Arizona Department of Education said that while internal promotions can be beneficial, they could have a domino effect.

“Whenever you promote from within, typically that still leaves a vacancy. So if you have a great principal that you want to promote to a district-level position, that still leaves you lacking a principal. And so then you’re trying to find a teacher or an assistant principal; You’re still going to have a position that you need to fill," Tack said.

Consultants say that there is a lack of teachers, which is a problem for today’s classroom and also means a smaller applicant pool for tomorrow’s superintendents.